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Foundation Heave: Signs, Causes And Solutions

Foundation heave is the uplift, elevation of a foundation precipitated by soaked, expanding soils and can generally be attributed to a seasonal increase in moisture, a plumbing leak, or underground aquifers.

Foundation heave is a phenomenon that occurs when the soil beneath a building’s foundation expands, causing the foundation to rise. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including changes in moisture levels, soil expansion, and the growth of tree roots. It can lead to cracking, shifting, and damage of the building’s structure. The damage caused by foundation heave may vary from small cosmetic cracks to major structural damages. It is important to address foundation heave as soon as it is detected to prevent further damage and maintain the structural integrity of the building. Solutions for foundation heave can include underpinning, soil stabilization, and the removal of trees or other sources of moisture.

The signs of foundation heave can include:

  1. Cracks in walls or floors: These may appear as diagonal or stair-step cracks in the drywall, brick, or concrete.
  2. Doors and windows that stick or won’t close properly: This can be a sign that the structure of the building has shifted due to foundation movement.
  3. Uneven or sloping floors: This can indicate that the foundation is no longer level, possibly due to heave.
  4. Gaps between the walls and floor or ceiling: This can be a sign that the building has settled unevenly.
  5. Bowing or leaning walls: This can be a sign of foundation failure, which can be caused by heave.
  6. Cracks in the soil or landscaping around the foundation: These can indicate that the soil is shifting and potentially causing foundation heave.

It is important to note that some of these signs may also be caused by other issues, such as poor construction or settling, so it is important to have a professional assess the condition of the foundation to determine the cause of any issues.

causes of foundation heave
There are several causes of foundation heave, including:
  1. Improper grading: If the ground around a foundation is not properly graded to allow water to drain away from the building, water can accumulate and cause the soil to expand, leading to heave.
  2. High water table: If the water table is high, the soil beneath the foundation can become saturated and cause heave.
  3. Freeze-thaw cycles: If the soil beneath a foundation is subject to freeze-thaw cycles, the soil can expand and contract, leading to heave.
  4. Soil composition: Some types of soil, such as clay soils, are more susceptible to heave than others because they expand and contract more easily with changes in moisture content.
  5. Tree roots: Tree roots can grow and cause the soil to swell and push up the foundation.
  6. Vibrations: Construction nearby or heavy traffic can cause vibrations that result in soil compaction and push up the foundation.

It’s important to note that not all heave is caused by the above factors and it’s important to consult a structural engineer or foundation repair specialist to determine the specific cause of the heave in your case.

Solutions for foundation heave
There are several solutions for foundation heave, which is the upward movement of soil beneath a building’s foundation. These include:
  1. Grading: Adjusting the slope of the ground around the foundation so that water drains away from the building.
  2. Drainage: Installing drainage systems, such as French drains, to remove water from around the foundation.
  3. Piling: Driving piles into the ground to support the foundation and prevent heave.
  4. underpinning :Digging beneath the foundation and reinforcing it with additional materials, such as concrete or steel.
  5. Soil stabilization: Injecting a stabilizing agent, such as grout, into the soil to prevent heave.
  6. Chemical treatment: Using chemicals to reduce the volume of expanding soils and minimize heave.

It’s important to consult a structural engineer or foundation repair specialist to determine the best solution for your specific situation.

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